By: Gabrielle McLaren, Features editor
Orientation, welcome packs, campus tours, the wealth of knowledge that is the Internet, and long, confused, meandering walks across Burnaby Mountain are all good starting places to get to know campus. I know that’s basically what I did.
Still, there were a lot of really useful resources and spaces on campus that I had no idea about until I stumbled upon them over the course of my first two years as an undergrad. Here’s a selection of those happy discoveries.
For the purpose of easy browsing, this piece is divided into the following sections: Academics (including resources at the library), Food, Student Health, Safety, Student Life and Community, and Student societies.
- Academic Advising: This is where you want to go if you’re facing academic difficulty, unsure about your major, or just need advice. If you’ve already declared a major or have a pretty good idea of where you’re going, you can also find your department or program’s specialized advisor for more topical advice. Talk to these people: they know the system better than you ever will, and can work magic as you feel your life falling apart.
- Student Learning Commons (SLC): TAs, teachers, and advisors can be a scary bunch. Fellow students aren’t, and they’re the ones who staff the SLC, trained and ready to help you with your academic writing, your studying habits, or you skills with English as an additional language (EAL). You can book a consultation online at any of the campus libraries, or drop in depending on availability.
- The SFU Library: Yes, this sounds obvious: we’re all going to use the library at some point. But the library is a magical place, full of secrets waiting to be discovered and treasures beyond your wildest dreams. The basement is full of maps, there’s a video and DVD collection on the first floor, and a good selection of fiction books for pleasure reading too.
- Group study rooms: This is the link you want to use to book a study room in any of the three libraries. Do book that room; they fill up quickly.
- AskAway: this saves lives. If you can’t find a resource or the link for an article online is broken, you can chat with a librarian live during their hours.
- Research help desks: you can get in-person help with research by booking an appointment online or dropping by the research help desks located in every library. Sweet, right? The research librarians have also created a collection of research guides which create a really great starting point for finding resources on a particular course or topic. Plus, some research librarians specialise in various disciplines and subjects, meaning that your department (or the department you’ve randomly found yourself in for that W-requirement) probably has a liaison librarian who can help you.
- Workshops and classes: There’s a wide range of skill sets that come in handy when you’re a student, and the library is ready to teach you everything from thesis-writing to note-taking and public speaking. Browse the list to see if there’s something that you could pick up.
- Make sure to actually go to the library. Online resources are convenient, but that one article that can justify your entire thesis can only be found in a book on the fourth floor, cloaked with dust.
- Food Bank Program: Through the SFSS, students in need can apply for a $25 food certificate up to three times a semester when facing hunger or financial difficulties. Obtaining your certificates is totally confidential, as only your student ID is recorded and the vouchers are distributed in unmarked, discreet envelopes.
- Food Rescue Program: Embark (a student society dedicated to sustainability) collects fruits and vegetables that are in good condition, but that supermarkets are unable to sell (ex: misshapen fruits) for free or by donation. Check their website to find out where and when distribution tables will be set up each term.
- Quest Food Exchange: The Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group (SFPIRG) is partnered up with Quest Food Exchange, a not-for-profit food exchange program that will sell discounted food to students facing financial hardships who have a recommendation from SFPIRG. Stop by their office (TC 326 in the Rotunda) and connect with a staff member for a recommendation, or submit the form you can find on SFPIRG’s website by clicking on the link.
- The Women’s Centre (TC3014) If you identify as a woman, the Women’s Centre is a great place to use a stove, a microwave, or grab a snack on campus.
- Here’s a listicle of where you can find microwaves on the SFU campuses.
- SFU Health & Counselling Services: These folks have on-campus clinics on the Burnaby and Surrey campuses that provide the same services as your family doctor, Monday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You can book an appointment over the phone, or drop in depending on their availability. They also offer sexual health services ranging from PAP tests to STI testing, pregnancy tests, and counselling. They’re also able to help students maintain and balance their mental health. If you need to speak to a counselor right away due to mental health issues or suicidal thoughts and feelings, you can notify the front desk as soon as you walk in.
- My SSP: My SSP is a free app, new to SFU, through which students can access confidential, immediate and/or ongoing mental health support. Services are offered in a variety of languages, around the clock. Students can also book counselling sessions over the phone or over video chat with a wide range of counsellors who can match with students through specific shared cultural, spiritual, or gender-based characteristics.
- Out on Campus (SFU’s pride centre) and the Women’s Centre are both great places to pick up condoms, lubes, razors, pads, tampons, and some information pamphlets about sexual health.
- Fitness Centre: The Lorne Davies Complex is where you’ll find SFU’s pool and gyms and fitness room — whether you’re going there to cheer on the Clan or to break a sweat yourself. They offer fitness training, group training, specialty classes, dance classes, a climbing wall, and much more. Have a look at their fall schedule, once it’s up online.
- Lost and Found: If you think you lost something on the Burnaby campus, call 778-782-5451. If you think you lost an object at any of the other campuses, drop by their security kiosks.
- Safe Walk Program: This program is designed to escort any student in need from one part of campus to another, 24/7. Safe Walk Escorts are equipped with IDs, flashlights, and portable radios that keep them connected to SFU Safety Services. They’re active on all campuses and can even provide walks from the Surrey and Vancouver campuses to nearby bus stops. When you need a Safe Walk Escort, call SFU Safety & Risk Services’ non-emergency phone numbers for the appropriate campus (keep them in your phone, just in case).
- Sexual Violence Support & Prevention Office (Diamond Alumni Centre, Room 014): The well-trained and experienced staff at the SVSPO are there to support survivors impacted by sexual violence, “regardless of when and where the incident took place.” You can meet them at their discreet office, or make an appointment elsewhere if you’re more comfortable. They offer a wide range of support for survivors based on individual needs, and support for anybody who has received a disclosure, as well as education programs.
- Road conditions and transportation cancellations: This is especially important on the Burnaby Campus, which shuts down if the buses can’t make it up the mountain. You can check this website, or check @SFU on Twitter.
Social life, community, and places to hang out
- Departmental Student Unions: Certain departments and programs at SFU have smaller student unions dedicated to their students alone. You are part of any student union for a department in which you are majoring/minoring, so you might as well get in touch with your DSU, show up to their meetings and events, and make friends! Start by browsing through the list of DSUs and getting in touch with the executive team. This also looks great on a resume.
- SFSS Clubs Directory: The SFSS manages all clubs. You can browse through the list of clubs at SFU online, based on a variety of resources and criteria. If I were you, I would check out Clubs Days in Convocation Centre from September 11-14. That way, you can get a pulse of which clubs are active this term and meet some members as you join.
- The Global Student Centre (AQ2013) : This is a “hub for all things global, intercultural, and international” as their website states. Their lounge is comfy, equipped with a kitchenette, and open to all. Their events range from Language Cafés and Talent Nights to Timbit Tuesdays.
- The Interfaith Centre (AQ3200) – This is a place designed to increase religious tolerance and support the spiritual well-being of SFU’s community regardless of their faith. They put on activities, dialogues, certain worship gatherings, and discussions throughout the week- either on their own, or by getting in touch with various faith groups on campus.
- Out on Campus (OOC, TC314-N): This is SFU’s Pride centre, operating on the Burnaby Campus. OOC has a beautiful lounge area, a giant collection of queer books, snacks, buttons, condoms (internal, external, and latex-free), information, safer sex supplies, and (in my experience) good company.
- The Women’s Centre (TC3014) : You can drop by the centre (which has an all-gender area as well as one reserved for self-identified women) for a nap, a snack, a book, a pad, support, and a variety of different activities and workshops.
Student societies on campus
There are a variety of student societies at SFU, designed to provide a variety of specialized resources to students. As an SFU student, you’re automatically a member of all of them. Here they are, in alphabetical order:
- CJSF (SFU’s community radio; Rotunda TC216): You can hear them at 90.1 FM from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week, or live online. They are also always looking for volunteers.
- Embark Sustainability Society (WMC 2621): Embark is dedicated to making campus a greener, more sustainable place and helping students make a difference.
- The Graduate Student Society at Simon Fraser University (GSS, MBC2203): The GSS is a society that has served and represented the university’s graduate students since 2007, operating independently from the SFSS, which serves undergraduate students. Their services and work include advocacy for grad students, providing a lounge (with free coffee service!), helping them connect with one another, and assisting them with attaining legal or financial aid.
- The Peak Publication Society (MBC 2900): Hi, that’s us. We’re the independent student newspaper at SFU, bringing you all kinds of content online and in print. Like CJSF, we’re always looking for new contributors.
- The Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) (MBC 2270): The SFSS is the largest society on campus, and works to support students and improve their experience while at SFU. They provide the U-Pass, a free legal clinic, room booking systems, and administration for clubs and departmental student unions.
- The Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group (SFPIRG) (TC326) : SFPIRG is a social and environmental justice resource and advocacy centre. They have their fingers in about a hundred different pies and causes and will be happy to work on you with yours, so make sure to visit them in the Rotunda or online to learn more. The Shelf of Reciprocity outside their office is also a cool place for lucky finds, or to pass along some well-loved objects.
The bottom line: if you need something at SFU, ask! Someone will be able to lend a listening ear or connect you to the resources that you need to succeed, thrive, and be happy here. Welcome, or welcome back.